Identification of Bruton's tyrosine kinase as a therapeutic target in acute myeloid leukemia

Stuart A. Rushworth, Megan Y. Murray, Lyubov Zaitseva, Kristian M. Bowles, David J. MacEwan

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Bruton's tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a cytoplasmic protein found in all hematopoietic cell lineages except for T cells. BTK mediates signalling downstream of a number of receptors. Pharmacological targeting of BTK using ibrutinib (previously PCI-32765) has recently shown encouraging clinical activity in a range of lymphoid malignancies. This study reports for the first time that ibrutinib inhibits blast proliferation from human acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and that treatment with ibrutinib significantly augmented cytotoxic activities of standard AML chemotherapy cytarabine or daunorubicin. Here we describe that BTK is constitutively phosphorylated in the majority of AML samples tested, with BTK phosphorylation correlating highly with the cell's cytotoxic sensitivity towards ibrutinib. BTK targeted RNAi knock-down reduced colony forming capacity of primary AML blasts and proliferation of AML cell lines. We showed ibrutinib binds at nanomolar range to BTK. Furthermore, we also showed ibrutinib's anti-proliferative effects in AML are mediated via an inhibitory effect on downstream nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) survival pathways. Moreover, ibrutinib inhibited AML cell adhesion to bone marrow stroma. Furthermore, these effects of ibrutinib in AML were seen at comparable concentrations efficacious in chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). These results provide a biologic rationale for clinical evaluation of BTK inhibition in AML patients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1229-1238
Number of pages10
Issue number8
Early online date4 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2014

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